Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Making and Knowing (Fake) Coral

Watch historians re-create a recipe for imitation coral, a popular material in early modern jewelry and home décor.

gloved hand mixing ingredients for an experiment

In a cramped lab, historians from Columbia University and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute) are reconstructing a 16th-century workshop by re-creating recipes from an anonymous craftsperson’s manuscript. One of the recipes being pursued is for imitation coral, a popular material in early modern jewelry and home décor.

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Is it right to publish research from an unrepentant murderer?

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How Notorious Abortionist Madame Restell Built a Drug Empire

Desperate women, mistreated by the 19th century’s medical establishment, risked black-market remedies and the wrath of Anthony Comstock’s moralizing thugs.


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